Very interested in X-Tol, but have a few questions

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Dr.Pain-MD, Jan 3, 2012.

  1. Dr.Pain-MD

    Dr.Pain-MD Member

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    Hey all, I've been doing some thinking recently and I realized that I want to try a different, more specialized developer. I shoot mostly old-style emulsions (usually Tri-X) and tend to push one or two stops a lot of the time because I like to have the available speed. The two developers I've been using have been D-76 and Rodinal. I've played around with Rodinal stand developing [for pushing] and while I like the results a lot of the time, I don't like the inconsistency of it as it seems to be a voodoo science more than a standardized developing method. I've also used D-76 a lot for pushing and while I am happy with it in most respects, I am not always completely satisfied with the tonality/contrast of the negs. I've been pushing Tri-X with one-shot stock D-76 and have found that to be my favorite combination so far.

    Basically, I push my film most of the time. I like contrast to be on the higher end and I very much enjoy grain, so I don't particularly care if it's there or not (I love Rodinal grain with higher ISOs for example) and I'm not very concerned about shadow detail most of the time. I also want to experiment with even larger pushes such as Tri-X @ 3200.

    I've been very interested in X-Tol and after doing some general reading I think that it's something that I want to try. My one main question is with regards to the various dilutions for the working solution. I read that Kodak used to recommend 1:2 and 1:3, but no longer does and now only recommends 1:1 for one-shot use in the official documentation. Can anyone give me a rundown on the benefits of using stock solution versus the different dilutions? Is there any benefit to using the replenished method? I would probably be more inclined to just use it as one-shot.

    Also, I'd be very interested to hear what anyone has to say about this developer, especially with regards to anything that I mentioned in my post. Thanks!
     
  2. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Member

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    If you enjoy the grain and don't care about shadow detail don't go with Xtol. I'd stick with what you're doing. I push Tri-x regularly in ID-11 1:1 (D-76), and enjoy the results very much. I used Xtol for years and years but mostly with Neopan 400 when it was still available. I loved that combo. Now that Neopan is gone I've moved to ID-11 for all my film developing.
     
  3. ROL

    ROL Member

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    Not pushed, but here's a recent comparison between XTOL and Pyro using FP4+ on LFPF.
     
  4. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    I think you'll find xtol similar to D76 but with a little more speed and a little finer grain. I use it at 1:2 when I use it and I've never had a problem with it over the five years I've used it. If you like Rodinal and big, sharp grain, why not use Rodinal at 1:50? Maybe HC110? HC110 used to be the mainstay of a lot of newspaper darkrooms. digitaltruth.com has starting points for big pushes with TriX in both of these developers. If you really want to shoot that fast regularly, though, you should try using something like Delta or Tmax3200. That way you'll only need to push about one stop (they are really closer to 1600 from what I understand) and can get reasonable shadow detail if you want it. When I shot 35mm, I used a fair amount of Fuji's Neopan 1600 and it was pretty amazing and I suspect that Ilford's and Kodak's offerings are equally good.
     
  5. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    HC-110 will produce a little more grain than D-76. Considering your desire for higher than normal contrast and grain I would not recommend Xtol. Kodak no longer recommends Xtol at higher dilutions than 1+1 becasue of unpredictable results. Many people are not aware that D-72/Dektol was once listed by Kodak as a universal developer for film and paper. You could try it diluted 1+7 or 1+9 for more grain and contrast.
     
  6. TriXfan

    TriXfan Member

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    Give Diafine a try.
     
  7. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    If you think you should give it a try, then give it a try. It only costs two rolls of film to buy a 5L bag! Assuming you're not replenishing, then 1+1 is generally how it's used, while 1+2 and 1+3 are possible, that can lead to developer failure which is why Kodak no longer recommends it. I have personally experienced developer failure at higher dilutions but found it 100% reliable at 1+1.

    If you "don't care about shadow detail" then of course what you're saying is you don't care about real film speed and you can happily push it to higher EIs and not care about the black holes in your images. In that case, using a speed-increasing developer like Xtol (definitely an improvement over D76 IMHO), you can get maybe an extra stop of speed over what you were getting with D76 and have it look just as good.

    My thoughts on XTOL from my FAQ.
     
  8. Dr.Pain-MD

    Dr.Pain-MD Member

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    Thanks for the advice, everyone! I may have over-exaggerated a bit earlier as I obviously care about shadow detail. What I probably meant to say was that I would like to have a wider latitude/contrast range when pushing into the high ISOs (as the detail in the very dark areas aren't crucial to me most of the time). While I like pushing with Rodinal stand developing, I find that the negs can get thin and the transition from total black to total white is a bit quick sometimes, if that makes sense.

    Either way, I got some X-Tol last week and will probably be mixing it up within the next week as I won't have anything to develop until the upcoming weekend. I'll make sure to update this thread after I try it out.

    EDIT: Polyglot, I just went over your small X-Tol FAQ and found it to be a good overview. Thanks! However, reading about the X-Tol death got me worried. I plan to mix it and store it in several glass bottles, but I will probably have one for active use. How long is it safe to keep it exposed to in-bottle air before seeing any adverse effects?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 10, 2012
  9. Bob-D659

    Bob-D659 Member

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    Mix in distilled water, store it in 2 liter soda bottles, squeeze the air out and it lasts a very long time. Well all my chems do anyways.
     
  10. Dr.Pain-MD

    Dr.Pain-MD Member

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    Alright, basically the same drill as my C-41 chems then. I'll keep that in mind, thanks.
     
  11. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    One very nice way I store my various and sundry stock solutions is in "wine boxes".

    The bladder inside most is reusable, pop out the spigot, wash well, pour in the XTol, insert spigot, squeeze out the air, and back into the box; re-lable properly.

    This allows dispensing without introducing any air.
     
  12. analog what is that?

    analog what is that? Member

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    You realize you could probably make developer from that wine stuff right away? Just pour out one litre of the wine (3 liter box) hydrolyse the stuff with 150 gram of crystal soda and pour it right back at the bladder, it will keep at least as long as the original wine. This is allegehedly a weak developer in itself.

    Just pour a tankful (350 ml) and add 5 gram of vitamin C (2 teaspoons) and go right ahead and use this as a developer...... they tell me, I never tried wine myself, but they say it works just as well as coffe...... :tongue: WINOTOLE?? hehe
     
  13. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Xtol is great for pushing film, especially at 1+1 dilution.
    You will get very fine grain, and lots of shadow detail. I'm like you and don't mind if some of my shadow details are lost in total black, but that's in the print, and if the negative has the shadow detail, then you have a choice of how to print it.
    Tri-X @ 3200 will give you nice grain, but much less pronounced than with Rodinal.
     
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  15. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I will have to try that with replenished XTOL in a Jobo processor. First though, I have to come up with several settings to try it so that I can shoot the complete roll and process it quickly.
     
  16. ChristopherCoy

    ChristopherCoy Member

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    What is 'repleneshed' XTOL? I ask because I typically mix my 5L of stock solution, develop my film in my small canisters, and then dump the chemical when its done. I don't put it back into the stock solution.

    Like the OP, I have been using D76 but I'm about to mix my first batch of XTOL to see how I like it.
     
  17. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    I like xtol for general use but haven't mixed any in a while. However, I often push film (tmy2) now with pyrocat hd. It's staining boosts contrast (negatives looking a little thin will print real nice). How it handles shadows and highlights is a function of the time used to develop and agitation amount. It does not slow the film down like some other pyro developers. I haven't tried differing concentrations yet. It keeps real well as liquid concentrate and is quite inexpensive.
     
  18. Tim Gray

    Tim Gray Member

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    With respect to death:

    I mix up 5 liters at a time with distilled water and then pour it into .5 L water bottles. There are two nice things about doing this. The first is that you never have more than .5 L of XTOL sitting around oxidating due to a half empty bottle. At 1:1 dilutions, a bottle does about 4 rolls of film. Secondly, your developer is in conveniently sized bottles—no trying to manhandle a gallon sized glass jar and pouring too much out. I've had it last well over 6 months doing this. At some point after that, if I still have some sitting around, I just toss it and mix fresh. If I can't afford $10 every months on fresh chemicals, than I have bigger problems to worry about :smile:

    I usually use it 1:1. I've tried it at 1:3 with stand development (1 hour) and got some interesting results, but I need to investigate that more. 1:1 is totally predictable and useable and is definitely good enough for a 1-2 stop push.
     
  19. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    See page 4 of http://www.kodak.com/global/en/professional/support/techPubs/j109/j109.pdf
    I like the results of the replenished XTOL even better than stock XTOL. Fine grain and smoother tonality.
     
  20. ChristopherCoy

    ChristopherCoy Member

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    So after reading the paragraph on replenishment in your link, I'm still as clueless as before. I would assume that what is replenished is stock solution that has been used, and then added back to the stock solution, and/or stored in a separate container. Basically, replenishment is adding back in, whats been taken out by the film that it previously touched?
     
  21. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    After adding the replenished XTOL into the tank, 70ml/80in2 of stock solution is added into the replenished XTOL container. When the developer in the tank has been used, it is poured back into the replenished XTOL tank and the excess is discarded.

    The stock solution makes up for the used [exhausted] developer.
     
  22. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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  23. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    ...and the byproducts left in the replenished developer from continued use is what's causing tonality, sharpness, and grain to look a bit different from straight Xtol 1:1.

    This is how I have used Xtol for three years, and I love it. The beauty of it is that normally a separate replenishing solution is needed when replenishing a developer, but not with Xtol - it is simply standard stock solution. This means I have both replenished developer AND fresh stock solution on hand, which means I have two developers in one. Formidable.
     
  24. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    I started to use XTOL a couple of years ago from APUGers suggestion and never regretted it. I used HC-110 replenished for over 20 years. Kodak stopped making the replenisher so I decided to find a developer that I can replenish and XTOL fit my needs. The developer has amazing shadow detail that I didn't get from HC-110. I still occasionally use HC-110. It keeps forever. The look of the two developers are different. The best thing is to run a test and see how you like it. One nice features are XTOL is pretty low toxicity and you can use the developer to replenish itself.
     
  25. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    One of the big advantages of using a replenishment regime (as compared to diluted developers) is that you don't have to worry about your temperatures - everything is done at a nice stable room temperature. If your room temperature is anywhere near 20C/68F, you just measure the solution temperature, adjust your development time accordingly, and go.
     
  26. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    Since Kodak stopped making HC-110 Replenisher several years ago they recommend that fresh working strength HC-110 be used as a replenisher for dilution B. In this respect HC-110 and Xtol are used in a similar manner in a replenished system.